Klaus Mayer

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Klaus Mayer (2019)

Klaus Mayer (born February 24, 1923 in Darmstadt ) is a Catholic priest of the diocese of Mainz and an honorary citizen of the city of Mainz .


Klaus Mayer grew up in Darmstadt at Rheinstrasse 25. His childhood years were marked by persecution by the National Socialists . As the son of the Jewish businessman and honorary senator of the Technical University of Darmstadt Karl Jakob Mayer, he was considered a “ first degree Jewish mixed race ”. Unlike his father, who emigrated to Argentina in January 1933 , Klaus Mayer stayed in Germany with his mother Emmi Meisinger. He found refuge in the Benedictine monastery in Ettal , where he attended high school. After the dissolution of the monastery high school, he graduated from high school in March 1942 at the Adam-Karrillon high school, today's Rabanus-Maurus high school , in Mainz. He was not admitted to the course. Instead, he attended a foreign language school in Hamburg from 1942 to 1943 . In February 1945 he escaped deportation by accident.

After the end of the Second World War in 1945, Mayer entered the Mainz seminary . On July 30, 1950, he was ordained a priest by the Mainz Bishop Albert Stohr in the Mainz Cathedral. Mayer became a chaplain in Bingen-Büdesheim , Seligenstadt and Oppenheim . In 1958, Bishop Stohr appointed him pastor of Gau-Bickelheim , where he worked for six years. From 1965 until his retirement in 1991 he headed the parish of St. Stephan in Mainz and played a key role in the reconstruction of the church, which was badly damaged during the war.

Klaus Mayer giving a lecture on the Chagall windows (2015)

In 1973, Mayer asked the then 86-year-old Jewish artist Marc Chagall to create new windows for St. Stephan, once founded by Archbishop Willigis as a “place of prayer for the Reich”. With this he wanted to set a sign of reconciliation between Germany and the Jews and to bring the church as a peace church back into consciousness. Chagall's acceptance was considered extraordinarily surprising and remarkable in that the artist had actually no longer wanted to work in Germany after the Holocaust . Chagall created new windows for St. Stephen that show a biblical cycle. After the artist's death in 1985, the work was completed by his student Charles Marq. In addition to the cathedral , these windows are now the most popular sight in Mainz.

Klaus Mayer wrote the four-volume presentation “The Chagall Windows at St. Stephan in Mainz”. In 2007 he published under the title “How I Survived. The years 1933–1945 ”presents his memories of his youth in the“ Third Reich ”. To this day (as of 2019) he holds public lectures several times a month in St. Stephan about the Chagall windows.

Awards and honors

Honorary title

In 1985 Mayer was given the papal honorary title of “ Chaplain of His Holiness ” for his services and has been addressed as Monsignor ever since .


Mayer was awarded the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany on ribbon and in 1989 the Cross of Merit 1st Class. The city of Mainz awarded him the Gutenberg plaque, the Gutenberg bust (1983), the city's ring of honor ( 1991) and finally with honorary citizenship (2005, after a unanimous council decision). In 2000 he was given the honor of registering himself in the Golden Book of the Jewish National Fund as a “bridge builder between Jews and Christians in Germany” . Mayer is an officer in the French Order of the Arts and Literature . For his commitment to German-Jewish solidarity, he was awarded the Jakob Steffan Prize from the association “Rheinhessen gegen Rechts e. V. "awarded.


  • The Chagall window to St. Stephan in Mainz
    • The god of the fathers. The central window. Würzburg 1993 ISBN 3-429-00573-6
    • "I put my bow in the clouds." The flanking central window. Würzburg 1994 ISBN 3-429-00616-3
    • Lord my God, how tall are you! The side windows , Würzburg 1994 ISBN 3-429-00739-9
    • The heavens, the heavens don't hold you. The transept windows. Letter to my friend. Würzburg 1995 ISBN 3-429-01001-2
  • St. Stephan in Mainz. Small art guide, 523. Schnell and Steiner, Regensburg 12., neub. Edition 2001 ISBN 3-7954-4311-3
  • Psalms in pictures. (with pictures by Chagall), Würzburg 1995 ISBN 3-429-01659-2
  • Dream images. (with pictures by Chagall), Würzburg 1997 ISBN 3-429-01905-2
  • How I survived The years 1933–1945. Würzburg 2007 ISBN 978-3-429-02861-9 ; ISBN 3-429-02861-2
  • Contemporary witness report by Monsignor Klaus Mayer , in Mechtild Gilzmer, Resistance and Collaboration in Europe . LIT Verlag, Münster 2004 ISBN 3-8258-6602-5

Documentary film

  • The Chagall window in Mainz . TV documentary by Marcel Schilling from the series Treasures of the country . Germany 2007, SWR television , 30 minutes

Web links

Commons : Klaus Mayer (Monsignore)  - Collection of images, videos and audio files


  1. Born October 12, 1894 in Mainz, died August 9, 1976 in Buenos Aires , until 1933 Honorary Senator of the TH Darmstadt , which revoked the revocation of this title in January 2015.
  2. a b Monsignor Klaus Mayer. State capital Mainz, accessed on September 19, 2016 .
  3. a b c d Press Office, Diocese of Mainz: Committed to German-Jewish reconciliation. In: pressstelle.bistummainz.de. September 8, 2011, accessed September 18, 2016 .
  4. Meditations on the Chagall Windows. In: dcms.bistummainz.de. Diocese of Mainz, 2019, accessed on October 5, 2019 .
  5. Monika Paul: A life in many colors. Monsignor Mayer is an honorary citizen / my heart's desire: construction of the synagogue ; Mainzer Allgemeine Zeitung, edition of April 16, 2005 in the Allgemeine Zeitung (article copy)
  6. Prize winners | Jakob Steffan Prize. In: www.jakob-steffan.de. Rheinhessen gegen Rechts e. V., accessed on September 19, 2016 .